How do you feel about the stigma around addiction?


Hey everyone, I’m curious about this and I think getting consensus on this could give a foundation to change it. So based on your experience, what do you feel is the stigma around people struggling with addiction? How do you feel our peers or society as a whole views someone fighting addiction whatever the drug of choice may be?
For me and what I’ve seen, I feel like there is s real negative stigma around it. People are quick to assume someone struggling with addiction is a sketchy untrustworthy person, usually irresponsible. People tell me to make sure to be careful assuming that something awful is guaranteed to happen. My Grandparents actually told me not to associate with recovering addicts because I might end up getting arrested or involved with a drug bust. So how do we change that stigma and help people see someone who is struggling as that is doing just that, struggling with life like the rest of us?


I’m going to get the ball rolling :slight_smile: great question @Dean_Acton - so personally I can start from what I thought first. I thought someone could just stop using. I think the lack of awareness we have in general as to what is physiologically going on when someone is in active addiction hinders us from being able to empathize with and treat people struggling with it with the right professional care.

Additionally, the idea that a 30 day rehab is a cure-all and that ‘meetings’ are the only answer. Is just simply - archaic and proven time and time again not good enough.

So I think it’s education and normalization of it that will help. Speaking out about it openly, and sharing the insights and stories of these most magical people.

P.S. I think there’s something kind of special about people who struggle with addiction, I don’t know what it is but it’s some sort of vulnerability and creativity that perhaps makes them more susceptible? I don’t know. All I’m trying to say is that I’ve learned that people who have struggled with addiction tend to have very high emotional intelligence, passion and creativity.


I’ve certainly seen a negative stigma around addiction. I’m a psychologist and have seen a huge reduction in stigma around mental health: more people are talking about it, and there is more access to help than ever! The same needs to happen for those who have substance use disorders. Agreed with @Jane that the 30 day rehab is not the answer. My son has been to many 30 day rehabs and none of them got him the stability he has today. An emphasis on not one size fits all for addiction is imperative, in my opinion.

Right now there is a boom in discussing wellness in general, and I think addiction needs to be included in that discussion, which it hasn’t been (as far as I can see). @Dean_Acton it seems as though you want to advocate for your loved one and yourself, as do I. It starts with you posting this question, and hoping others catch on. I’ve also tried to educate my colleagues and family about destigmatizing addiction and why it’s so important. :+1:


I think you’re right @Dean_Acton that a lot of the stigma is around how people expect an addict to look. My dad is a self-made, respectable, mannered, grown man. Not what even I think of when I picture the face of addiction.

I think this is one of the ways that’s made it hard for him to speak about his addiction openly with friends & family, or his larger social circle. Heck - it’s what’s made it hard for me to speak about it openly! The feeling of not wanting to accept or associate the image of this successful man (or woman, or person!) with the image we expect to see. “There’s no way yooou’re an addict. :roll_eyes:

I guess the more we share our experiences, and the more we accept that addiction knows no race, gender, age, etc., the more we break free of the stigma.


This is a GREAT question! Before this situation with my sister, I have to admit I had a negative mind set. However, after what I have experienced and witnessed with her in the past 7-10 years, my view is totally different. I sooo wished I could help woman in bad situations get out or provide resources. But during this incident, I have truly seen how someone becomes brainwashed and the system is set up so that the “victim” has to be the one to speak out and get help, even if the family reaches out to the authorities for help.

When someone is “sick” and struggling, they need protection from themselves, but the system isn’t set up that way. So, friends and family have to take a back seat on getting them help.